Finland church prioritises inter-religious dialogue

Helsinki, Finland - CALLING IT a “step in the right direction”, Hindus have praised The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (ELCF) for listing inter-religious dialogue under “priority areas”.

Acclaimed Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, lauded ELCF’s remarkable stand in this regard: “Intercultural and inter-religious dialogue are of paramount importance in order to build bridges…”

Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, pointed out that serious and honest interfaith dialogue was the need of the hour. Religion was the most powerful, complex and far-reaching force in our society, so we must take it seriously. And we all know that religion comprises much more than our own particular tradition/experience, Zed stressed.

Rajan Zed has urged ELCF archbishop Dr. Jukka Paarma to organize a world-level interfaith dialogue meet in Helsinki or Turku in the near future, inviting leaders of major religions and denominations of the world.

Rajan Zed further said that in our shared pursuit for the truth, we can learn from one another and thus can arrive nearer the truth. This dialogue may help us vanquish the stereotypes, prejudices, caricatures, etc., passed on to us from previous generations. As dialogue brings us reciprocal enrichment, we shall be spiritually richer than before the contact.

Christianity came to Finland in the ninth century AD and now over 80 per cent of Finns are members of ELCF, totaling about 4.4 million. The church consists of nine dioceses and 466 parishes.

Hinduism, the oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents and moksha (liberation) is its ultimate goal.